Leading the charge of this journey is Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones, playing a more complex character than what's on the surface). Her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) is forced by the petulant Commander Orson Krennic (played by a foaming at the mouth Ben Mendelsohn) to join the Empire to construct the death star. Young Jyn is left in the care of robo-legged Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), an extremist who sets her on a path of angry rebellion. Eventually, her services are needed by the Alliance, where she teams up with a ragtag group of men, although trust is a major issue, to retrieve the death star plans and fight Darth Vader's (James Earl Jones reprising the iconic voice) massive army.
The most praise I have for Rogue One are the decisions made by Gareth Edwards and his special effects crew. The director of Godzilla (2014) constructs a fast paced, sure footed space opera, with a complete vision of the Star Wars universe that's full of characters living in a world of destruction and dirt covered faces. The various set pieces usher us to planets we've never seen before, along with action in the air involving ships escaping crumbling cities, and locations filled entirely of beaches and rocks shaped like lightsabers.
The screenplay from Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy is more original than previous Star Wars movies. It creates its own path, with a narrative rooted in the human characters, as it is less involved with focusing on anyone who can use a Jedi mind trick. Rogue starts impressively strong, pushing through a languid second act that includes another display of the death stars power, and finishes with a climactic battle that few of these movies have ever had.
Erso's crew is headed by cold-blooded rebel leader, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). Together, they round up a group willing to fight the empire, including mysterious pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), a blind, stick wielding believer of the force named Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), his trusted gun-blasting friend Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), and the best of the bunch - a lanky wise-cracking droid named K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). The gangs created bond grows stronger as the pace of Rogue quickens. Their goal in mind, along with a few proud speeches from Erso, grant them the motivation to succeed.
Some of my main complaints about Rogue include numerous bad puns, along with one too many winks at the camera, followed by appearances from memorable characters that feel wedged into the story. I would encourage audiences to view A New Hope to help refresh their Star Wars history; otherwise, you might feel lost. Rogue One works when expanding on the Star Wars world we love. The moment when Vader unleashes his Jedi powers is a sight that made me quite giddy.
Ultimately, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a fun little misfit of a film that reminds me a bit of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, mixed with Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch. A lot of fans and critics alike will be debating about the use of CGI effects to re-create characters from the past films, which is impressive and creepy. Either way, Edwards has built a bridge between the prequels and sequels, as it scrapes and blasts its way, earning the applause it deserves. With an impressive effort from Felicity Jones, even though this installment may be just another way for Disney to add to its already massive pile of money, I am all for more efforts like this. I'd like to stand by the words that Jyn Erso claims, “Rebellions are built on hope”, and Rogue One is a fantastic movie that I hope Star Wars fans enjoy as much as I did.
Written by: Leo Brady
MOVIE: ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
STARRING: FELICITY JONES; DIEGO LUNA; BEN MENDELSOHN; FOREST WHITAKER
DIRECTED BY: GARETH EDWARDS
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Had George Lucas never made those painful prequels to the original Star Wars trilogy, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story would be the perfect starting place to usher fans back into a universe filled with the force, lightsabers, and Wookies. Instead, those movies do exist (I try to forget them), and last year J.J. Abrams' crowd pleasing The Force Awakens started what is sure to be a trend of a new Star Wars movie every year. Gareth Edwards continues that success by stepping in as director in this installment, which is essentially Episode 3 ½ in the series, taking place somewhere between when Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, and the rise of Luke Skywalker in 1977's Episode IV: A New Hope. Rogue One may be a small story in the Star Wars history, but it expands the vast universe with a new group of heroes in this thoroughly entertaining adventure, dealing with more Wars than Stars.